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Senate To Revive Disability Rights Treaty

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The U.S. Senate is gearing up to reconsider an international disability rights treaty that was rejected by the body on its first go-around last year.

The Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee is scheduled to take up the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at a hearing this coming Tuesday. It will mark the first time that lawmakers will consider ratifying the treaty since it was defeated in a vote last December that fell largely across party lines.

The convention calls for greater community access and a better standard of living for people with disabilities worldwide.

Ahead of the hearing, Vice President Joe Biden rallied supporters Friday, meeting with a group of disability advocates at The White House to discuss the administration’s backing of the treaty.

Meanwhile, disability advocacy groups are urging their members to attend Tuesday’s hearing and to lobby members of the Senate committee. A broad coalition of over 700 disability, civil rights, faith, business and veterans organizations favor ratification.

The path forward, however, is anything but certain.

The United States signed the convention back in 2009, but Senate approval is needed in order to make participation official. Last year, President Barack Obama sent the treaty to the Senate for ratification. Despite bipartisan support for the treaty, opposition from Republicans was strong and the measure failed to garner the two-thirds majority required for ratification.

Opponents of the convention — spearheaded by former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., the Heritage Foundation and the Home School Legal Defense Association — have argued that the treaty would compromise U.S. sovereignty and threaten the ability of parents to determine what’s best for their kids.

Supporters, however, say those arguments are baseless and that the treaty would merely extend many of the protections already in place domestically under the Americans with Disabilities Act to those abroad without requiring any change to U.S. law.

To date, 138 countries have already ratified the convention, according to the U.N.

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Comments (10 Responses)

  1. MsAmericanPatriot says:

    This would FORFEIT our sovereignty which is NOT good at all. I hope the Republicans stand firm and fight ratification of this treaty.

  2. Isabel Hodge says:

    I would like to recommend that you visit the Ratify the CRPD Facebook page to get more information and resources on this important treaty. I also recommend that you read Patricia Morrissey’s blog. Pat’s blog addresses many of the oppositions concerns.

    I will be attending the hearing in support of ratification. I have also written to Senators and emailed the Senators on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Disability organizations, veterans organization and U.S. businesses should email and call Senator Menendez and Senator Corker. This is important.

  3. Martha says:

    Since these rights are already part of the law in the United States (ADA, for example), it would not forfeit our sovreignity but extend the rights already enjoyed here for the benefit of all, world-wide. It’s embarassing that our Senate made such a poorly-led decision last December. Let’s hope our representatives stand for real action instead of meaningless, misinformed grandstanding this time around.

  4. Whitney says:

    The Republicans are lying the treaty is just the same as ADA which is not the forfeit of State rights. Get your facts straight. Far as I am concern America is not doing a great job in world in leadership by either party. So your saying ADA is unconstitional. The Republicans are not anyone rights but their own and the 1% and they are certainly not for women rights or disabled. All they did was cut off food stamps and WIC. So their collective attitude is let the poor and the mothers starve.

  5. Patricia Morrissey says:

    Sovereignty is a principle that means a nation has control over its own affairs, how its people are governed. The U.S. is a representative democracy. U.S. citizens elect their representatives to Congress and Congress makes the laws. The President, through the Executive Branch, implements them. The federal courts make sure that federal laws, passed by Congress, are consistent with other laws, passed by Congress, and our Constitution.
    When the President sends a ratification package on an international treaty to the Senate, the President describes how the treaty is consistent with U.S. laws and the Constitution. In the case of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) package, the President included specific clarifications related to how the U.S. will interpret treaty language. These clarifications were in the form of three reservations, four understandings, and one declaration (called RUDs for short). In any case if the Senate decides RUDs are not sufficiently clear or that more RUDs are needed, it can amend any ratification package. Whatever the Senate passes, by a yes-vote of at least 67 Senators, becomes the “supreme law of the land” according to our Constitution.
    Some are concerned that if the CRPD is ratified that the U.N. will have the power to tell the U.S. how it does things with regard to people with disabilities. Those worried fear that a U.N. committee, set up to evaluate how each nation is responding to the CRPD, will write a report judging the U.S. And, whatever is in the report, the U.S. will have to do. Well, the fact is, these reports are not binding. That means a nation may write a response to a report, but nothing in the report forces any action whatsoever.
    Another concern about U.N. interference is that a person in the U.S. could go to court and use language in the treaty to demand something. This will not happen. The CRPD package sent to the Senate includes this Declaration:
    Non self-executing. The United States declares that the provisions of the convention are not self-executing, and thus would not be directly enforced by U.S. courts or of itself give rise to individually enforceable rights.
    We are in good shape. The U.N. is not going to dictate how the U.S. conducts its affairs with regard to people with disabilities – only the Constitution, U.S. laws, and the ratification package and RUDs contained in it, affect what the U.S. Government does – not a U.N. committee.
    After reading this, if you still have concerns, I suggest you reach out to a bipartisan pair or group of Senators to develop amendments to strengthen the sovereignty protection now in the CRPD ratification package.

  6. Janet Duncan says:

    This is an extremely important convention and we must ratify it. I just don’t understand how informed people can oppose this–on any grounds. The sovereignty argument is foolish and diversionary.

  7. Whitney says:

    Thanks for the information on the treaty. I agree to it is needed.

    To add there things Americans did to citizenry in name of peace and war. The Japanese Internment camps would outlawed by most of Geneva Convention. Child Labor, Slave labor and the Jim Crow Laws are examples how civil rights are going. So what is going prevent the US Government oppressing the people with disabilities nothing but the ratification of this treaty will change that.

    Since Rick Santorium is against it makes me more for it. Since I know Senator Ted Cruz dead set against this funny guy he so for rights unless your a woman, disabled, LGBT or foreign national. Remember this guy who rather bankrupt a country to make politcal brownies. Also believe Sen Cronyn is also anti rights of disadvantage.

  8. Margaret Fine says:

    The United States should ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.For those individuals opposing the treaty, I would recommend reviewing the treaty and the proposed reservations, understandings and declarations before issuing comment. For instance, there is a federalism reservation proposed, which states that U.S. obligations under the treaty are limited to those measures appropriate to the federal system, such as the enforcement of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Given this type of reservation to the treaty the issue regarding federalism is moot.What is important about ratification is that the United States shows to the world that we not only participate in the drafting of treaties, but that we ratify them demonstrating commitment to the global community in protecting and ensuring human rights.

  9. Steph C says:

    Dear @ MsAmericanPatriot, Tthe CRPD package sent to the Senate includes this Declaration:
    Non self-executing. The United States declares that the provisions of the convention are not self-executing, and thus would not be directly enforced by U.S. courts or of itself give rise to individually enforceable rights.
    We are in good shape. The U.N. is not going to dictate how the U.S. conducts its affairs with regard to people with disabilities – only the Constitution, U.S. laws, and the ratification package and RUDs contained in it, affect what the U.S. Government does – not a U.N. committee.
    After reading this, if you still have concerns, I suggest you reach out to a bipartisan pair or group of Senators to develop amendments to strengthen the sovereignty protection now in the CRPD ratification package.

  10. F. Dang says:

    We live in a progressive country where all our citizens are included in society. We have may agencies that help out our disabled population so they can be part of society. The disabled individual can be productive and become proud of themselves and have the feeling of have worth.
    In many of the countries having a disability is like having a death sentence, a very slow one at that. In Africa individuals who have albinism are stolen from their families. There is the belief that having a part of the albino’s body is good luck. In Iraq and other middle eastern countries, If your child has an intellectual disability, after the third grade (when individuals with Intellectual disabilities become more apparent to the teachers and peers) they are sent home and the child stays at home, hidden away, for the rest of their lives ( this affects more women then men ). The individual may not understand the cultural standards, such as a woman wearing a burka while in public, the individual may go to the market and be met with hostile people that will beat her and even kill her depending how the individual offended the cultural norms. A family from one f the Balken states started to have grand-mal seizures daily, starting at the age of 13. At age 22 he had not receive any help and continued to have daily seizures. He had moderate intellectual disabilities. His hands were tied and kept under his shirt. His parents tied his hands purposefully because if his hands were not tied he would beat his head with closed fists. When examined he had callouses on his temples where he was hitting himself. He had this behavior for years wet his parent could not find anyone to help them. The reason why no one helped them, they were ethnic minorities in their country. These are some of the individuals I have met and worked with.
    As a human being and a parent of a adult child with a disability, I cannot in good conscience be quiet as others suffer. We must as a nation speak out for those who cannot.

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